As a parents` advocate, I work almost exclusively with families whose child or children have been removed into care by the family courts. For many of the parents that I work with, after a year or so in temporary foster care the children are either placed for long term fostering or if they are young enough they will be placed for adoption. I know there are lots of families out there who make very good adoptive parents, however statistically, research suggests that children who are adopted are more vulnerable to a variety of social and psychological problems which emerge as they grow up and begin to properly understand the implications of being adopted.
I am strongly against what here in the UK we call forced adoption that is, taking a child for adoption without parental consent. The UK is one of only a very few countries who do this, Australia operates under a similar, draconian policy. America pretends that it has revised its policies, but in reality things haven’t changed at all. Young, single and poor mothers from all of these countries still say that social workers ask them what they have to offer in comparison to the financially better off, married couples who want to adopt their children. Surely this is a form of social control?
This is not to say that I oppose adoption per se, I don`t. If parents are neglecting, physically hurting or sexually abusing their children then of course those children should be removed until we can be certain that the parents will keep them safe. If parents for whatever reasons wish to consent to their children being adopted, that is an entirely different matter. It is forced and coerced adoption that troubles me because for so many reasons, children need to know who their birth parents are and in the UK, once you are adopted that`s it. You don`t get to have any further contact with your birth parents except in very rare cases.
Back in 1998, an American researcher called Ginni Snodgrass produced a paper which points out that there are vulnerabilities shared by all adoptees. In those most vulnerable, a distinct pattern of behaviours can be seen. Some have labelled this the “Adopted Child Syndrome.” She writes that in America mental health professionals are surprised at the alarmingly high number of their patients who are adopted and that studies show an average of 25% to 35% of the young people in residential treatment centres are adoptees. This was 17 times the norm in 1998.
Unsurprisingly, research in the UK also concludes that adoptees are more likely to have difficulties with drug and alcohol abuse as well as eating disorders, attention deficit disorder, infertility, suicidal thoughts and untimely pregnancies and globally, high numbers of adoptees are sent to correctional schools.
If you`d like to read the whole paper, here is a link to it:
Thousands of families in the UK are broken up every year by our closed family courts. This means that the public do not get to hear what happens to families once the adoption ball is rolling and if families speak out in the press, they are punished, sometimes by being put into prison. That is awful. It means that Local Authorities can get away with lying about parents in court and as if this isn`t bad enough, with very poor social work practice. I thought the UK was a democracy, but I am wrong. In the UK family courts can and do order newly born babies to be taken from their mothers and given up to be adopted by strangers. Parents are not allowed their democratic right to speak about this even though Article 10 of the Human Rights Act guarantees freedom of speech. This is why I support a revision of current legislation. I think that family courts should be open and just as with a criminal case, decisions about parents should be made by a panel of Jo and Josephine public and not by a single judge.
When children are removed into care in the UK, often social workers will arrive at the home with at least 2 police officers and take the children away. Naturally, the children will be crying and terribly upset and will be able to see that their parents are being physically restrained. During contact sessions, conversations between relatives and children are strictly censored. No mention of the case or coming home is allowed or contact is stopped. This can lead children to believe their parents do not want them to come home. Children in care suffer an awful lot of guilt and while in foster care, children are frequently not allowed a mobile phone or access to a computer which isolates them even further from their birth families.
200 parents in the UK are jailed every year for going to the press about forced adoption. The UK is the only country in the world that gags parents in this way. Harriet Harman was questioned about this when she was minister for children, she said that she did not know what the figures were.
The UK is the only country in Europe (except Croatia) to permit forced adoption.
The UK is the only country in Europe to censor conversations between parents and children in care. Parents cannot become emotional or discuss the court case, not even with older children and if they do then contact can be stopped. Our current system is in my view, very cruel and punishes not just the parents but the children too. Mr Justice Hedley who has presided over countless care and adoption proceedings in this country says the following;
“Many parents are hypochondriacs, many parents are criminals or benefit cheats, many parents discriminate against ethnic or sexual minorities, many parents support vile political parties or belong to unusual or militant religions. All of these follies are visited upon their children, who may well adopt or ‘model’ them in their own lives but those children could not be removed for those reasons.”
Related article and websites.
My grateful thanks to Ian Joseph for permitting me to print here, some of his views on this subject.